When the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) brought the world’s top 36 bull riders to the Twin Cities last weekend, the sport also had a special event planned that brought the crowd to their feet
On Saturday afternoon there was a roar inside the Target Center as Molly Steffl was announced as an honorary bullfighter and had her story told by arena announcer Brandon Bates.
Molly is a 9-year-old little girl who was bullied so badly all of her hair fell out. The PBR PR department became aware of this story when tipped off by Samantha Mauney, the wife of two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney and noticed Molly and her family were within driving distance to the Minneapolis, MN event.
A plan was made, and on Saturday night Molly would be honored for taking a stand against bullies and persevering through the bullying. She was not only made an Honorary Bull Fighter and given Be Cowboy honors on the dirt. Molly also wanted to give the bull riders a pep talk prior to Saturday’s event.
When fan-favorite Arkansas native Chase Outlaw was informed of Molly’s story and upcoming visit he was so moved that he shaved his head so she would not be the only person that was bald in the in the locker room on Saturday.
What PBR did for Molly is not unusual. There are many stories just like this from the Pueblo, Colorado-based organization and the men and women from all over the country who bring the bulls to the events.
Stock contractor Kenny McElroy, a cancer survivor, was so moved by the story of a fan valiantly fighting cancer, he named one of his top bulls after her. She is retired Navy Seaman Mary Apper and her namesake is Apper’s Mindfreak, who Mary and millions of other viers watch buck rider after rider off on CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network.
Most recently, Chad Berger, 8-time Stock Contractor of the year, made a trip to see a special fan for her birthday on his way home from the Minneapolis Invitational. Chad surprised this fan with a “BeCowboy” plaque and birthday gifts. Berger has been known to drive four or five hours to visit a sick fan and then drive home the same day. He does it without fanfare.
Ethan Brown, who grew up loving rodeo and by extension the PBR with what started as a “Wish” at the 2018 World Finals in Las Vegas, has now made a few guest appearances on RidePass. His popular slots on the PBR’s digital network have turned Ethan into a fan-favorite and sparked a love for journalism, which may turn into a career for the 17-year-old born with cerebral palsy. Ethan has faced multiple surgeries but he still continues to get back up and push onward. Ethan has been offered an internship by MMG, a PR agency serving PBR Major events that include the World Finals coming up November 6th-10th inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
PBR strives to put fans on a pedestal and its employees love to help make fans dreams come true. The PBR is currently focusing on ordinary people who embody the cowboy spirit and places the focus on these people and their stories with the “BeCowboy’ campaign.
From my own experiences, the PBR is an organization that does NOT fit the mold of every other organization or sports league. The reason for this is from CEO Sean Gleason down to the front line and arena crew staff, everybody attempts to put the fans first and foremost in the decisions they make. I have had extended conversations with Gleason about several topics. Sean is extremely busy running a sport that spans five countries and now reaches nearly a half-billion households across working on television yet generous with his time. I have befriended several bull riders others inside and ns for associated with the PBR. I can say without a doubt the fans come first for PBR, riders and stock contractors.
From one loyal fan to everyone who has helped me along my journey of being a fan or even taken the time to talk with me at the hotel prior or after an event, thank you all for the reminder that there are still, some great people in this world who are proving it with actions these fan stories and my own experiences.